The early results of the outlining experiment are in, and though more research is required before I say so definitively, all indications are that . . .
Y’all know I’m a seat-of-the-pants writer, right? I’ve been at this business professionally for a number of years now, and every single one of my manuscripts–published or not–have been written one scene at a time, with no more guideline than a general knowledge of structure.
For years, Katie and I have been on the opposite ends of the spectrum where it comes to outlining. She’s an avid outliner, I’ve evolved into a hesitant hybrid. She’s right about where my fear of outlining comes from: visions of the rigid structure, complete with Roman numerals and indented letters and numbers, that we–in my generation, at least– learned in school. Rigidity and creativity don’t mix.
But when you think about it as free-writing, scribbling whatever comes to mind in response to structured questions–and sometimes not-so-structured questions–it makes a difference. Wakes the muse, gets the creativity flowing. After you’ve gone through a period of creating what, in all appearances, seems to be river sludge and start picking out the gold nuggets, it’s amazing how quickly things start to develop.
Granted, I did have the same trouble outlining as I do in SOTP writing–what to do with that saggy middle. Happens every time I sit down to write: I know the beginning and I know the end, but getting from point A to point B always threatens my meager sanity. The benefit of outlining is, when something doesn’t work, I simply tear up the index card and start over. In writing, I’d have to rip out entire scenes, then backtrack to change whatever went with them. It didn’t take long–seriously, how long does it take to paint the segment and hit delete?–but it was still a greater and more frustrating effort than just scratchin’ out the scribbles or tearin’ up the card.
My primary defense of being a pantser was that, when I was done, I had a complete novel ready to edit. Outliners have an outline ready to be turned into a novel, which was then ready to be edited. I figured I saved a few steps. And, in my defense, it does take Katie longer to get a novel out than it does me.
But in her defense, her novels are more complicated than mine.
I currently write romance, a genre whose key elements are dictated by time and tradition: boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl back, and they live happily ever after.
The challenges for writing are still there for me, because I still have to imagine an entire story world for all these wonderful events to take place, characters have to be developed, and the conflict defined, executed, and resolved. But because the elements are the same (yes, it’s formulaic writing–a time-proven formula that works for its readers), I don’t have to spend time making up my own.
And because those elements are the same, if I outlined the rest, I could produce more novels more quickly than I do when I write by the seat of my pants.
Believe me, I was surprised too.
So, early results about outlining? I like it.
Pass the crow.
Want to take the same journey? I recommend Katie’s book and workbook, available on Amazon:
Similar posts of my outlining journey:
Don’t forget our 99c Kindle bundle special!
On your recommendation, I bought the book and now the workbook. The funny part is I’ve discovered I’m more of a SOTP writer than I realized. But if I don’t have some outline, I stall. So I’d rather have a plot outline of the scenes, then within the scene, write SOTP. I’ll let you know. 🙂
I have to admit, it took me by surprise. The creative process doesn’t change–just the way it’s expressed at first: notes scribbled instead of scenes written. I never did follow her workbook precisely, but jumped around and found what worked for me.
I think you’ll like this.
This is kind of what I do except I use the Inspiration9 program and its thought-bubble diagram setup. The thought bubbles are like the 3×5 cards. 😉 I’m better with something I can do on my computer. Handwriting things frustrates me because I’m either having to keep stopping to erase mistakes, or I’m crossing them out which looks messy & distracting. I do need to try the cork board and “cards” in Scrivener and see if I like those. 🙂
I thought the same way about not wanting to have messy writing, Pearl. But I discovered that it’s worse on my computer–I tend to get sidetracked with the Internet, thinking to myself that I’ll just quickly research that one little thing. Lies, I tell you! It’s all lies! Best I’m nowhere near the world wide web! 😀
How can I not read a post with that title? :p I’m so happy the outline ended up being a helpful tool for you! *Snoopy dance* That’s completely awesome. I was a little worried there for a bit that you were going to end up wasting a bunch of time on my recommendation. 😉
This really did help me–especially, as I said in other posts, because I had no idea what my plot would be for this book. I don’t think my outline is as extensive as yours are, but it helped. I think I may be a convert. We’ll see where I stand when the manuscript is done.
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